sodaAmerican as apple pie. But how bad for us is soda?Hoo boy. The American Beverage Association isn’t going to like this news one bit. Food companies now add significant amounts of phosphates to soda and other processed foods. And now researchers have found evidence that phosphates may accelerate aging (via Science Daily):

High phosphate levels may also increase the prevalence and severity of age-related complications, such as chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification, and can also induce severe muscle and skin atrophy.

“Humans need a healthy diet and keeping the balance of phosphate in the diet may be important for a healthy life and longevity,” said M. Shawkat Razzaque, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Medicine, Infection and Immunity at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. “Avoid phosphate toxicity and enjoy a healthy life.”

“Soda is the caffeine delivery vehicle of choice for millions of people worldwide, but comes with phosphorous as a passenger” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This research suggests that our phosphorous balance influences the aging process, so don’t tip it.”

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This has nothing to do with sweeteners, food coloring or any other previously established badness associated with soda and processed food — it’s a “new and improved” risk.

And what, pray tell, are these phosphates doing there in the first place? According to other scientists, food companies starting adding them at high levels only in the last 20 years:

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…[W]hile a moderate level of phosphate plays an essential role in living organisms, the rapidly increasing use of phosphates as a food additive has resulted in significantly higher levels in average daily diets. Phosphates are added to many food products to increase water retention and improve food texture.

“In the 1990s, phosphorous-containing food additives contributed an estimated 470 mg per day to the average daily adult diet,” he said. “However, phosphates are currently being added much more frequently to a large number of processed foods, including meats, cheeses, beverages, and bakery products. As a result, depending on individual food choices, phosphorous intake could be increased by as much as 1000 mg per day.”

“Increase water retention and improve food texture”?! That’s worth shaving years off our lives for sure! We’re all lab rats now.